Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Iraq Wants ‘Payback’ From Islamic State Foreign Fighters

Jeff Seldin writes for Voice of America:

Iraqi lawmakers are demanding members of the Islamic State terror group pay for their crimes, and not just with prison terms or the death penalty.

The speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives said Friday that Iraqis should be compensated monetarily, as well.

"The Iraqi parliament will formally demand all countries whose citizens have either committed crimes inside Iraq [or] brought damage and harm to the Iraqi people ... bring those criminals to justice and compensate Iraq for the crimes they did to Iraq and the Iraqi people," Mohammed al-Halbousi told reporters following a speech in Washington.

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After Iraqi Kurdistan’s Thwarted Independence Bid

International Crisis Group reports:

The furious reaction to the September 2017 Kurdish independence referendum – in the wake of which Iraqi forces recaptured most of the country’s disputed territories – has forced the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan’s two main political parties to consider rebuilding their partnership and jointly re-engaging with Baghdad about outstanding differences. These steps are a strategic necessity if these parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are to advance the Kurdish region’s interests. Yet inter- and intra-party rivalries, as well as leadership contests, are undermining any inclination in that direction. The referendum backlash also accelerated the erosion of both the parties’ internal democratic processes and the region’s governing institutions, while strengthening family-based rule. Any international effort to advance negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad should begin by encouraging renewed KDP-PUK partnership and reinvigorating the push for political reform in the Kurdish region.

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Iraq Ferry Accident Sets Off Political Upheaval in Mosul

Alissa J. Rubin and Falih Hassan write for The New York Times:

In a rare show of deference to the anger of Mosul citizens over government abuses, the Iraqi Parliament on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to remove the province’s governor, citing accusations of corruption, self-dealing and negligence.

Although Mosul citizens had pleaded with the central government to remove the governor for more than two years, it was only after a ferry disaster brought angry citizens into the street that senior political figures decided to act.

The deposed governor, Nufal Hammadi, who had held the job since 2015, made no comment publicly either before or after the Parliament vote. A report on the allegations against Mr. Hammadi will be released in the next few days, several government officials said.

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Post-Daesh Iraq treads fine line as it seeks regional role

AFP reports:

Five years after the Daesh group swept across Iraq, Baghdad is bidding to reclaim its role as a regional player while walking a tightrope between rival backers the US and Iran.

The country is seeking to position itself as a "bridge" between rival powers in a region beset by deep divisions, says Iraqi political scientist Ihssan Al Shemmari.

Following more than a decade of international sanctions and 15 years of conflict — including the push to roll back Daesh, which ended over a year ago — violence in Iraq has dropped sharply.

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All ISIS Has Left Is Money. Lots of It.

David Kenner writes for The Atlantic:

If you’re looking to transfer money here, there’s a chance you will be directed to Abu Shawkat. He works out of a small office in a working-class suburb of the Lebanese capital, but won’t give you its exact location. Instead, he’ll direct you to a nearby alleyway, and whether he shows up depends on whether he likes the look of you.

Abu Shawkat—not his real name—is part of the hawala system, which is often used to transfer cash between places where the banking system has broken down or is too expensive for some to access. If he agrees to do business, you’ll set a password and he will take your cash, then provide you with the contact information of a hawala broker in the city where your money is headed. Anyone who offers that specific password to that particular broker will get the funds. Thus, cash can travel across borders without any inquiry into who is sending or receiving it, or its purpose.

But Abu Shawkat runs the hawala equivalent of a mom-and-pop store: One of the giants of the industry, which analysts believe owns a network of money-services businesses and has moved millions of dollars a week, is the Islamic State.

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After a Deadly Ferry Accident, a Grim Vigil at an Iraqi Morgue

Alissa J. Rubin writes for The New York Times:

The drawn men waited silently outside the morgue on Saturday for the scream of an approaching ambulance carrying another victim of the devastating raft accident on the Tigris River this past week.

“I am looking for these boys,” said one, Mohammed Thanoon, 23, holding out his phone to show photos of his nephews to anyone who would look.

Mr. Thanoon and the others awaited word of loved ones whose fates remained unknown after an overloaded pleasure craft carrying people between Mosul’s riverfront and a small island in the middle of the Tigris capsized on Thursday, dumping its passengers into the water and then sinking.

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Grief turns to anti-government anger after boat capsize in Iraq’s Mosul

Salih Elias and Jamal Badrani report for Reuters:

Scores of angry protesters swarmed Iraq’s president and the governor of Mosul on Friday, forcing them to leave the site of a river ferry accident that killed at least 90 people in the northern city the day before.

Since the Sunni Muslim extremists were driven from Mosul nearly two years ago, relief has given way to impatience over alleged corruption as reconstruction of the destroyed city has stalled.

“No to corruption ... all of you are thieves,” demonstrators chanted at President Barham Salih and Nineveh province governor Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan, who visited the site of the capsize early on Friday after nationwide mourning was declared.

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War may be over but Basra’s battle for clean water continues

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

On World Water Day on Friday, Ruqayya is reminded of the pain she suffered last summer after coming into contact with contaminated water in Iraq’s southern province of Basra.

Years of conflict, mass displacement, climate change and under-investment in water networks created a crisis that is affecting large parts of the country, especially the south.

The UN children's agency (Unicef) reported last year at least 50,000 children fell ill in Basra due to the province’s lack of basic services and toxic water.

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Scores dead as ferry sinks in Tigris River near Iraq’s Mosul

Al Jazeera reports:

Scores of people have died after a ferry carrying families celebrating the Nowruz holiday capsized in the Tigris River near the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to officials.

Major General Saad Maan, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said at least 71 people were killed in Thursday's accident. A separate source told Reuters news agency that 72 were confirmed dead.

Another 55 people, including 19 children, were rescued.

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Basra Museum opening sparks hopes of cultural revival in post-war Iraq

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Basra Museum opened its doors to the public this week in another step towards restoring the country's cultural heritage damaged in conflicts dating back almost four decades to the war with Iran.

The museum in Basra had been closed since 1991, when it was among nine museums looted by mobs opposed to dictator Saddam Hussein at the close of the first Gulf War. Now, with the assistance of the British Museum and other organisations, thousands of artefacts dating back as far as 6000BC are back on display in the southern province.

The collection, housed in a former palace of the late dictator, covers Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic periods of Iraq’s history.

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